KIWI sprinter Alex Ray defied atrocious weather conditions to win his first Shipwreck Coast Classic yesterday.
Ray, 23, beat defending champion Floris Goesinnen in a sprint finish up Hickford Parade to cap a strong weekend in the south-west.
The pint-sized Target Trek cyclist finished fifth in Saturday’s Melbourne to Warrnambool.
Budget Forklifts’ Jacob Kauffmann was third, some four seconds behind Ray and Goesinnen, the 2012 Melbourne to Warrnambool winner.
That trio battled strong winds and rain to complete the 132-kilometre course , which claimed 65 victims.
Only 33 riders completed the National Road Series’ penultimate round.
Ray, who finished third in last year’s Shipwreck Coast Classic, said his win was “redemption” for missing out on a podium finish in the iconic Melbourne to Warrnambool classic.
“I had good legs today and I think pretty much all the riders in the break had reasonable legs,” he said.
“I really wanted it and I was feeling good. Towards the end, the last 30 kilometres, some of the guys started looking around each other and I went.
“Everyone started playing cat and mouse and I picked my moves and it wasn’t until later on I was able to get away with Floris and it worked out well.”
Ray, who raced in America this season, admitted to nerves entering the race’s final stages.
“He (Floris) said he was hurting but you don’t really know until the finish line when everyone is going for it,” he said.
“I was confident. I trusted myself and I knew I had good legs. At the end of the day second still would have been better than going back to the bunch with the rest.”
Ray said the win ranked up there with his best but was quick to turn his attention to his next campaign.
“I don’t tend to focus on results, I always look forward to the next race,” he said.
“This was my last race for the season so I get to go out with a win.”